Thorny Devil Hatches at Alice Springs Desert Park

11010557_786505621426797_2790897292437850506_nAlice Springs Desert Park, in NT, Australia, recently welcomed a Thorny Devil hatchling in the Park’s Nocturnal House.



11041663_786507168093309_8590891587676102699_nPhoto Credits: Alice Springs Desert Park

The Thorny Devil (also known as a ‘Thorny Dragon’, ‘Thorny Lizard’, or the ‘Moloch’) is a species that is native to the dry desert and shrub land of Australia. The average adult reaches a length of 15 to 20 cm (5.9 to 8 inches), and will weigh about the same as a mouse (a max of about 95 g or 3.4 oz). They are known to have an average life span of 12 to 20 years.

Thorny Devils are a difficult species to breed in captivity because they will only breed when in excellent condition, which requires keeping them very well fed on a diet of ants throughout winter, until ready for spring breeding. Incubation at the Alice Springs Desert Park took 3 months, at 29 degrees. Time period for incubation varies according to temperature.

Hatchlings are completely independent and soon after hatching, they start eating ants. Surprisingly, it will take 2 years for the young to reach full adult-size.

As with many species of lizard, the female Thorny Devil is slightly bigger than the male and tends to be slightly paler in color. All Thorny Devil individuals tend to change from a paler to a darker color when they cool down.

The Thorny Devil also has a pretend head at the back of its neck which is used to mislead oncoming predators. It will dip its real head down, when threatened, and will therefore have a slight advantage on other animals.

The new addition, at Alice Springs Desert Park, is an exciting achievement for their reptile team. The last time Thorny Devils bred at the Desert Park was in 2008.

Look Who Just Hatched!

A tiny Carpet Chameleon has just emerged from its egg at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo!  Weighing about the same as four toothpicks, this little Lizard is one of seven Carpet Chameleons to hatch between January 12 and February 12 at the zoo.


Photo Credit:  Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo

Native to Madagascar, Carpet Chameleons are one of the smallest true Chameleons.  In their forest habitat, Carpet Chameleons sport dark colors in the mornings as they warm themselves in the sun.  Once they are warmed up, they traverse tree branches in search of flies, grasshoppers, and insect larvae.  Food is captured on the tips of the Chameleons’ sticky tongues, which can be as long as the Lizards themselves (up to 10 inches). 

At just three months of age, carpet Chameleons reach sexual maturity and begin breeding.  Though many species in Madagascar are threatened with extinction, these Chameleons are abundant.

See more photos of the Chameleon below.

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Lots of Lizards for Staten Island Zoo

Crocs_7_3Seven rare Chinese Crocodile Lizards recently were born at the Staten Island Zoo.  This may seem like a large litter, but the last litter included 11 babies!

Photo Credit:  Staten Island Zoo

Chinese Crocodile Lizards are native to China and Vietnam, where they live in cool forests. These Lizards are semiaquatic, often sitting in streams or among vegetation, awaiting passing insects, worms, and tadpoles. Unlike most reptiles that lay eggs, they give birth to live young.

Due to extensive habitat destruction and capture for the pet trade, Chinese Crocodile Lizards are listed as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.  Just over 1,000 of these Lizards are thought to remain in the wild.

See more photos of the Lizard hatchlings below.

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Crocodile Skink a First for Fort Wayne Children's Zoo

Crocodile Skink Fort Wayne Children's Zoo 1
The Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo welcomed a new addition on February 10 – a two-inch-long Crocodile Skink.  It’s the first time this lizard species has ever hatched at the zoo.  The hatchling weighed two grams, approximately the weight of a pencil eraser. 

Crocodile Skink Fort Wayne Children's Zoo 3
Crocodile Skink Fort Wayne Children's Zoo 2
Crocodile Skink Fort Wayne Children's Zoo 4
Crocodile Skink Fort Wayne Children's Zoo 5Photo Credit:  Fort Wayne Children's Zoo

This little Crocodile Skink came as a surprise to zoo keepers.  Late last year, zoo keepers discovered that the zoo’s two adult Crocodile Skinks had produced an egg in their exhibit.  Zoo keeper Dave Messmann accidentally disturbed the egg while cleaning the Skinks’ aquarium.  “We were concerned about the disturbance.  It’s best practice to avoid moving a reptile egg,” Messmann said.  That’s because if a reptile egg is disturbed, an air pocket inside the egg can shift, potentially causing the embryo to suffocate. 

Hoping for the best, zoo keepers decided to incubate the egg by placing it in a deli tub filled with wet moss.  The egg incubated at room temperature, undisturbed.  After 60 days, the egg hatched.

Now more than a month old, the hatchling is developing normally.  The gender is not yet known.  Adult Crocodile Skinks are about eight inches long and weigh about one pound.

Crocodile Skinks are native to New Guinea in Southeast Asia, where they inhabit moist areas along waterways.  They are one of the few lizards that make sounds.  Because they are secretive, little is known about them in the wild.

Panther Chameleons Make a Colorful Family at South Carolina Aquarium

©South Carolina Aquarium Panther Chameleon Babies (2 of 50) Raul

The South Carolina Aquarium welcomed four Panther Chameleons, born last month. The four babies have been named Raul (pictured above, born August 9), Nico (born August 16), Ronald (born August 18), and Clarence (born August 19). These lizards are native to the biologically diverse Island of Madagascar. Like many chameleons, Panther Chameleons can change colors depending on the temperature, mood, and light. Males are generally more colorful than females. Their tongues are extremely long, often many times longer than their body.

©South Carolina Aquarium Panther Chameleon Babies (49 of 50) Clarence
©South Carolina Aquarium Panther Chameleon Babies (14 of 50) Nico
©South Carolina Aquarium Panther Chameleon Babies (32 of 50)Ronald
©South Carolina Aquarium Pather Chameleon Baby Raul (11 of 86) Raul
Raul. Photo Credits: South Carolina Aquarium 

Gila Monsters Hatch at Aqua Terra Zoo


After a four-and-a-half month incubation period, several Gila Monsters have hatched at Austria’s Aqua Terra Zoo.  Hatchlings are about 6 inches long (15 cm) and can bite and produce venom from the moment they hatch. 

Native to the southwestern United States and Mexico, Gila Monsters are one of only two venomous lizard species native to North America.  (The other is the Mexican beaded lizard.)  Despite being venomous, Gila Monsters are slow-moving, so they are not a great threat to humans. 


Photo Credit:  Aqua Terra Zoo

Gila Monsters do not inject their venom; rather it is applied through capillary action while the lizard is chewing its prey.  They typically feed on bird and reptile eggs, and in the wild may eat less than a dozen times per year.

Drugs for the treatment of type 2 diabetes have been derived from Gila Monster saliva.  Research continues on other components of Gila Monster saliva as potential treatments for Alzheimer’s disease and schizophrenia.

Customs Agents intervene to rescue rare Johnston's Chameleons


Two tiny and very delicate Johnston’s Chameleons hatched the UK’s Exmoor Zoo. Just over an inch (3 cm) long, the babies had an auspicious start in life:  they were laid by a female that was part of an illegal shipment en route to the Czech Republic and seized by customs agents in Belgium.

Because Johnston’s Chameleons occur only in the western branch of Tanzania’s African Rift Valley – the Albertine Rift – they are extremely rare in captivity, according to Danny Reynolds of the Exmoor Zoo.  “They are probably the first of this species ever born in captivity within UK zoos,” he said.   



The illegal shipment of 59 Chameleons was due to be destroyed when the UK’s Specialist Wildlife Services and UK Customs officials intervened and placed all the lizards in UK zoos. Females at several other zoos have laid eggs, but those at the Exmoor Zoo were the first to hatch.

Like all Chameleons, Johnston’s Chameleons are zygodactylous – they have two toes pointing forward and two toes pointing backward, which enables them to easily cling to tree branches (or toothpicks, as seen in the photos above).  They capture insects with their long, extrudable tongues.  In captivity, the babies are fed fruit flies and day-old crickets.

Photo Credit:  Exmoor Zoo

Leapin' Lizards! Two rare species born at Austria's Aqua Terra Zoo


Austria’s Aqua Terra Zoo is celebrating the long-awaited arrival of two sets of baby lizards:  Panther Chameleons and Chinese Crocodile Lizards.

The zoo’s female Panther Chameleon laid 35 tiny eggs early this year. While the eggs incubated, the staff carefully mimicked the seasonal variations of rainy and dry periods that the species would experience in its native Madagascar.  Finally, the 1/2-inch-long (1 cm) juveniles emerged from their eggs this month.



A colony of fruit flies is maintained to feed the lizards.  Like all Chameleons, these little ones are amazingly accurate “sharp shooters,” using their tongues to snag the tiny flies.  The staff feeds the colony hourly and waters them by hand to make sure each lizard gets a meal.  The hatchlings have already doubled in size!

Panther Chameleons are listed on Appendix II of CITES, due to loss of habitat on the island of Madagascar.  Sale of animals for the pet trade is tightly controlled by international quotas.


Hatching the rare Chinese Crocodile Lizard is a noteworthy achievement for the staff at Aqua Terra Zoo. After nearly a year of waiting, the female Chinese Crocodile Lizard gave birth to 12 healthy pups.   These lizards give birth to live young, rather than laying eggs.

Chinese Crocodile Lizards are native to southeastern China and northeastern Vietnam, and are named for the crocodile-like appearance of their tail.  They live near small streams and ponds, where they feed on tadpoles, insects, and caterpillars.  They often remain motionless for hours, and are called “lizards of great sleepiness” by local residents. Forest clearing and collection for the pet trade threaten the small, little-studied populations of Chinese Crocodile Lizards, which are listed on Appendix II of CITES.  Export for the pet trade has diminished with protection from the Chinese government.

Photo Credit: Günther Hulla / Aqua Terra Zoo

Three Wee Tree Monitors

New York's Buffalo Zoo has announced the latest additions to their Reptile House -- three baby Black Tree monitors (Varanus beccarii). Their birthdays are October 28, 30 and November 2. This is the first time since 2006 that the species have hatched at the zoo.

Black tree monitors are native to the Aru Islands off the coast of New Guinea, and little is known about their natural ecology in the wild. They are highly adapted to life in the trees due to their long, curved claws, streamlined body and long, prehensile tail They can grow to be approximately 3 feet (.914 meters) long. They're carniverous, eating things like insects, scorpions, eggs, and small mammals.

The Black Tree monitor is considered to be a CITES AppendixII (threatened) species due to deforestation. Buffalo Zoo is one of only 13 zoos in North America (and 22 in the world) to house this species and the only zoo in the world reported to have hatched Black Tree monitors this year.




Chinese Crocodile Lizards Give Birth - You Heard That Right!

Chinese Crocodile Lizard 3

Two female Chinese crocodile lizards gave birth at Seatle's Woodland Park Zoo this fall and their two litters produced a total of eleven babies. And that's right, they were not hatched, but born. These reptiles actually give birth to their young, after a 9-12 month gestation. 

The newborns, weighing approximately 4 to 6 grams, are independent at birth and litter size ranges from 1 to 9. In the last picture below, you can see a side by side size comparison of the adult and baby. Since WPZ acquired a pair in 1993, there have been 70 crocodile lizard offspring born at the Zoo. 

The Chinese crocodile lizard is an endangered lizard found in the Guanxi province in Southern China and in 2002 previously unknown populations were discovered in northern Vietnam. This species is semi-aquatic and lives in creeks between 200–700m in altitude surrounded by broadleaf trees and conifers. This lizard has become severely endangered due to collection for the pet trade and for food, and from habitat destruction.

Chinese Crocodile Lizard 2

Chinese Crocodile Lizard 1
Photo credits: Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo

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